Russia: Chechen refugee forcibly disappeared after being unlawfully deported from Poland

Amnesty International is calling on the Russian authorities to immediately disclose the whereabouts of Azamat Bayduev, a Chechen refugee who was deported to Russia from Poland on 31 August and forcibly disappeared the next day.

According to eyewitnesses, at around midnight on 1 September, several dozen armed men wearing Federal Security Service and Ministry of the Interior insignia came to the house where Azamat Bayduev was staying in the Chechen village of Shalazhi and took him to an unknown location with no explanation. His family was refused information about his fate and whereabouts.

“There could hardly be a better illustration of why it is not safe to return Chechen refugees to Russia.
Denis Krivosheev, Acting Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

“There could hardly be a better illustration of why it is not safe to return Chechen refugees to Russia. Within hours of his arrival in the country, Azamat Bayduev was taken from his house by armed men and is now in an unknown location. We are calling on the Russian authorities to immediately disclose his fate and whereabouts and to ensure full respect of his human rights,” said Denis Krivosheev, acting Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

“By returning Azamat Bayduev to a country where his life and safety is at risk, the Polish government was clearly in breach of its international obligations. This chilling incident is part of a well-documented pattern of horrendous human rights violations in Chechnya – just days ago, 15 countries demanded an investigation into systematic persecution, torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions.

“We are calling on the Russian authorities to immediately release Azamat Bayduev, unless he is reasonably suspected of any recognizable crime, and allow him to reunite with his family.”

On 30 August, 15 members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) enacted the Vienna mechanism, seeking truth about grave human rights violations in Chechnya and demanding effective investigations. The OSCE delegation listed ‘worrying actions taken by Chechen authorities against persons based on their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as human right defenders, lawyers, independent media, civil society organizations, and others’.

Background

According to media reports, Azamat Bayduev received asylum in Poland in 2007 but later moved to Belgium because he no longer considered Poland to be safe. In 2017, the Belgian authorities detained Bayduev in connection with an alleged involvement in planning terrorist activities. However, he was not charged with any crime, and was deported to Poland. Months later, on 9 April 2018, the Polish authorities placed Azamat Bayduev in a deportation centre for irregular migrants, and deported him to Russia on 31 August. The same day he took a plane from Moscow to the Chechen capital Grozny and then drove to his relatives’ home in the village of Shalazhi.